Bill Gates-backed Carbon Engineering captures 'Climate Impact Challenge' birth

The startup is one of 10 'Climate Champions' from across the country selected by the MaRS technology accelerator.

“In a world where brilliant science and innovation brought us vaccines within one year to combat the global pandemic,” says MaRS CEO Yung Wu, “we have a new challenge—to adopt innovations that can save our planet as the world races to bring annual greenhouse gases emissions to net zero by 2050.” To achieve this ambitious feat, Wu’s organization has launched the Mission from MaRS: Climate Impact Challenge. BC’s Carbon Engineering, led by CEO Steve Oldham, is one of 10 companies nation-wide selected for the inaugural Challenge cohort.

Squamish-based Carbon Engineering’s technology removes CO2 directly from the air, so it can be buried permanently underground or repurposed for ultra-low carbon fuels, chemicals and materials. A single Carbon Engineering facility has the potential to capture as much CO2 annually as 40 million trees.

The company is in a period of momentum and growth, having launched its carbon dioxide removal service (Direct Air Capture) earlier this year, with Shopify as its first customer. In addition, the firm landed the Government of the United Kingdom as a customer and raised a $68-million USD round in 2019, which included Bill Gates, Chevron Technology Ventures, and Thomvest Asset Management.

MaRS’ Climate Impact Challenge was launched in February to tackle the global climate crisis. In addition to identifying and recruiting some of Canada’s most promising climate-technology ventures, the initiative seeks to eliminate the barriers to adoption that prevent such companies from realizing their global potential.

The recently announced 10-company cohort was selected to tackle emissions across three key GHG-intensive sectors: energy, real estate, and transportation. According to MaRS, together, those sectors represent at least 75% percent of GHG emissions globally.

Working with MaRS, the companies will be supported by a team of potential customers, investors, government representatives, and other industry experts who will work to identify and address the market barriers these companies face and uncover opportunities to accelerate their growth.

If the climate solutions from these 10 companies were to achieve five percent global market adoption by 2040, up to 2.4 gigatons of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions could be avoided or captured annually, according to carbon-reduction assessments conducted on each company by MaRS and its partner Rho AI, an AI analytics company.